July 02,2009

Grassley asks top medical journals about ghostwriting

WASHINGTON – Senator Chuck Grassley has asked eight leading medical journals to describe their policies and practices regarding ghostwriting.

Grassley said his inquiry is part of his broader effort to establish transparency with regard to financial relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and medical professionals.

“Public dollars and the public trust are at stake in the practice of medicine, and the information that is shared in these journals can influence decisions made by doctors and their patients,” Grassley said.

“Transparency can do a lot of good in building confidence that there’s nothing to hide, and that applies to how expert opinion is presented in public forums like these journals provide.”

In December, Grassley wrote to Wyeth and DesignWrite, a medical education and communications company, regarding allegations that Wyeth hired DesignWrite to draft articles promoting the company’s hormone therapy products and seek academic investigators to sign on as the primary authors. Previously, Grassley had written to Merck and Scientific Therapeutics Information, a medical publishing company, regarding similar allegations reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association related to articles on Merck’s VIOXX studies.

Below is the text of the letter of inquiry that Grassley sent to the American Journal of Medicine, the Annals of Internal Medicine, the Annual Review of Medicine, the Archives of Internal Medicine, Nature Medicine, PLoS Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association, and The New England Journal of Medicine.